Poor Fleet Foxes, roundly dismissed by a leading UK indie magazine (which shall remain nameless) as "hippies who sing acapella". To which the obvious response is: what's wrong with that? They do it well - very well. Sun Giant, their debut EP, was quite an attention-grabber, and its promise is amply fulfilled by this almost uniformly excellent first album. Suitably, it opens with a Southern church-style acappella burst, oddly propounding a parody of weather lore: "Red squirrel in the morning/red squirrel in the evening." And then, with great assurance, it simply lifts off and coasts seamlessly. Comparisons with (UK-only) label mates Midlake are inevitable, given the shared massed vocal harmonies, acoustic folk influences and weird rural narratives in the lyrics, but really Fleet Foxes are a more accessible proposition: Robin Pecknold's writing packs this record full of grand pop hooks. The reverb is not only in-your-face but utterly spot-on; this is what the Walker Brothers might have sounded like if they'd had access to more modern studio technology, and what an additional joy it is to hear a modern record that is neither ridiculously compressed nor overlong (it lasts just over 39 minutes). Such is the quality that it's impossible to single out highlights; easier instead to identity just a couple of tracks which are slightly below par, including the closing vocals-and-guitar-only Oliver James, this take of which sounds it's trying a little too hard. A better farewell, likewise featuring just Pecknold and guitar, would have been the dazzling Isles, on the bonus CD that comes with certain editions of the album. But otherwise Fleet Foxes' debut is a sheer delight. The band say they've been working at their music for a long time, but as Peely used to say of the Smiths, Fleet Foxes seem to have sprung fully formed from the womb, and this album is all the proof that's needed.